After 25 years of the attack on a train carrying the then opposition leader Sheikh Hasina, a Pabna court sentenced nine BNP leaders and activists to death and 25 to life term imprisonment.
Thirteen other people were handed 10 years rigorous imprisonment by the court, reports our Pabna correspondent.
Additional District and Session Judge Rustom Ali, also the acting judge of the Special Tribunal-3, pronounced the verdict in a crowded court room this morning. Among the convicts, 34 were produced before the court during the verdict.
Defence lawyers of the state expressed satisfaction over the verdict and said justice has been served finally.
Meanwhile lawyers of the convicts rejected the verdict and said they have been deprived justice and they will appeal to a higher court.
WHO ARE THE CONVICTS?
The condemned convicts are former BNP president Ishwardi municipality unit AKM Akteruzzaman; secretary of Ishwardi poura unit BNP Jakaria Pintu; former Ishwardi municipality mayor Mokhlesur Rahman Bablu, also former secretary of Ishwardi poura unit BNP; former VP of Ishwardi government college Rezaul Karim Shahin, convener of Ishwardi upazila Jubodal Azizur Rahman Shahin and activists of poura and district unit Shahidul Islam Atal, Shamol, Mahabubur Rahman Polash and Samsul Alam.
Among them, Jakaria Pintu has gone into hiding, the court said.
Meanwhile, convicts Aminul Islam, Azad Hossain, Ismail Hossain, Alauddin Bishwas, Samsur Rahman, Anisur Rahman, Akkel Ali, Md. Rabi, Md. Enam, Abul Kashem, Kala Babu, Mamun, Selim, Kollol, Tuhin, Shah Alam Liton, Abdulla Al Mamun, laizu. Abdul Jabbar, Polash, Hakimuddin allies Tenu, Alamgir, Abul Kalam, AKM Firozul Islam were given life term imprisonment and were also fined Tk 3 lakh each. If they fail to pay the fine, they will have to serve two more years in jail.
Nefaur Rahman Raju, Azmal Hossain, Anwar Hossain Jony, Rono, Barkat, Chand Ali, Enamul Kabir, Moktar Hossain, Hafizur Rahman Mukul, Humayun Kabir Dulal, Jamrul, Tuhin Bin Siddique and Fazlur Rahman were handed ten years rigorous imprisonment and were also fined Tk 1 lakh each. They will have to serve one more year in jail if they fail to pay the fine, the court officials said referring to the verdict.
All the convicts are leaders and activists of BNP, Jubodal, Swechchhasebak Dal and different wings of BNP, Johurul Islam, office secretary of district unit BNP confirmed the matter.
HOW DID THEY ATTACK?
On September, 23 in 1994, Sheikh Hasina (now the Prime Minister of Bangladesh) was travelling from Khulna to Syedpur via train and holding rallies at different stations. As her train reached Pakshey Railway Station in Pabna’s Ishwardi upazila it was attacked with crude bombs and gunshots and the attack continued till Ishwardi Railway station.
Nazrul Islam, the then officer-in-charge of Ishwardi GRP Police Station, filed the case accusing five persons of BNP and its ally parties. Police pressed a charge sheet accusing 52 BNP men and its wing leaders and activists on April 4, 1997, but all of them secured bail from court. Five of the charge sheeted accused have already died.
“After a long legal battle, the court punished all 47-charge sheeted accused according to proper witness and evidence,” Advocate Akteruzzaman Mukata, public prosecutor (PP) said.
Through this verdict, justice has been established said Advocate Abdul Ahad Babu, additional public prosecutor.
“After the incident police made the final report in a hasty manner in 1994 during then BNP government but the then court did not accept the final report and ordered CID for reinvestigation. After reinvestigation the CID submitted a charge sheet accusing 52 people,” Advocate Ahad said.
In the years after the accused at different times tried to derail the case by presenting false witnesses but the work for the case continued for the sake of justice, he added.
Denying the verdict defense lawyers of the convicts said they did not get justice.
“We are deprived from justice. The argument of the case ended on July, 1. This is a sensational case. Without examining all the examinees, the court hurriedly pronounced the verdict,” Advocate Masud Khandaker, counsel of the convict and also vice president of district unit BNP said.
“We will appeal against the verdict for the sake of justice,” he added.
After the verdict, local BNP men brought out a protest procession on the court premises while ruling Awami League supporters and activists held separate procession expressing satisfaction over the judgment brought the chase and counter chase in the court campus.
Expressing dissatisfaction over the verdict, family members of the convicts cried out in the court premise demanding justice.
“We are not satisfied over the verdict. This is not an acceptable verdict in comparison to the crime,” Kaisar Ahmed Piash, son of life term convict Akkel Ali told journalists at the court premises.
The death penalty and life term imprisonment were handed to the convicts as their crimes were proven under Section 3 of the 1908 Explosives Act of the Special Tribunal.